Social Scientist. v 6, no. 62 (Sept 1977) p. 69.


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BOOK REVIEW

Technological Change under Socialism

JOSEPH S BERLINER, THE INNOVATION DECISION IN SOVIET INDUSTRY, M I T Press, Cambridge (Massachusetts) 1976. 561 pp.

ACCORDING TO Berliner, the answers to a series of four questions sum up the entire economic growth experience of the Soviet Union. What the Soviets confronted immediately after the revolution was the question: ^Can socialism work at all?95. It was followed by ^Can a socialist economy work efficiently?" and ^Can socialism generate growth from within?".

While these three have found affirmative answers during the last sixty years, the last of the four questions facing the Soviet Union today is whether its economy has the capacity to generate technological change or not. Berliner who holds that the question still remains, makes it the theme of his book on Soviet industry.

His study is limited in scope, confining itself to just three things;

civilian industrial sector; innovation, but not the stages of research prior to it, constituting what may be called invention; and a single factor influencing innovation, namely the ^social structure of the economic system'.

While Berliner believes that the ^rate of technological innovation depends in part on the nature of the social arrangment by which economic decisions are made", he goes on to say, ^It is possible to identify a set of structural properties that are common to all systems of economic decision-making and that explains the outcomes of those systems." The hypothesis of the study is that given the cultural and historical traditions, the technical characteristics such as structure of demand and resource endowments, and governmental policies, "the outcomes of any economy are fully explained in terms of four fundamental properties of economic structure: prices, decision rules, incentives and organization."



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